[JURIST] Oklahoma voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure [State Question No. 759, PDF] to eliminate affirmative action programs within the state. Seventy-six of Oklahoma’s 77 counties approved [AP report] the constitutional amendment that will affect hiring and education practices within the state. The measure would abolish any preferred treatment of employees in these sectors based on race, color or gender. Supporters of the proposal say that these affirmative action programs are no longer necessary to assure equal opportunity, while those opposed, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], question the political motive [AP report] behind the decision to put this initiative on the ballot.
Affirmative action proposals similar to Oklahoma’s have already passed in other states. Arizona voters approved an affirmative action ban [JURIST report] in 2010. California also approved an affirmative action ban in 1996, which was most recently upheld by the Ninth Circuit [JURIST report] in April. The US Supreme Court in October heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, where the plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of the school’s affirmative action program. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the university’s program and the US Supreme Court will ultimately determine [JURIST op-ed] whether the program violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment [LII backgrounder].